Bette Newton, her last name spelled like “the law of gravity,” made the gift that triggered Interfaith Community Services’ 1,800-square-foot addition on Ina Road.
“We had gotten to the point where we kept getting busier and busier, and you were almost having to ask, ‘could I use that phone for a while,’ or ‘could I sit at that desk for a while?’” the longtime ICS volunteer said. “We really needed space. We were almost sitting on each other’s laps.”
A placard in the $440,000 addition – which has another $100,000 in furnishings and finish work — celebrates Newton’s “inspirational gift” that “launched this campaign.”
“She started the momentum,” ICS development director Monnie Applegate said. “She said ‘it’s time we do this.’”
Newton downplays her role.
“We’ve had people give 10 times what I’ve put in,” Newton said. “It’s wonderful to see what people have given us.”
Modesty aside, Newton is “delighted” by the result, and energized by the work.
“Just knowing that whatever small contribution you can make has maybe helped somebody solve a problem” is its reward, Newton said.
She volunteers in ICS’ “Good Samaritan” department, which helps people with “a little bit of everything,” from help with utilities to bus passes.
“You hear some pretty sad things, and some people, it’s the first time they’ve stubbed their toe, and they’re scared to death, they just don’t know what to do,” Newton said. “It’s nice that maybe you’ve made their day a little easier.”
Bette Newton is 91 years and five months young, not that she’s counting. She volunteers up to eight hours a week.
“My doctor would shoot me if I said I wasn’t going to the agency anymore,” Newton said. “I’m not a youngster anymore. There’s not an awful lot of things I can do.”
ICS “really is my family,” Newton said. “We get to know each other so well. It’s a great thing. I’m very lucky.”
Newton praised the work of executive director Bonnie Kampa. “She’s been a great director, and she’s kept her finger on the pulse, and taken us from being a small agency that was doing its thing, to one that is really accomplishing a great deal.”
Of life, Newton says that, in taking inventory at the end of a week, “if you haven’t made it easier for somebody sometime during that week, you really haven’t accomplished very much.
“I feel so good for having done it.”